You’ve done the research of which type of childcare best suits your family, you’ve found a couple daycare contenders, now what?
I’ve seen and experienced first hand that usually this next step comes with a lot of anxiety for parents. I see that they are wanting to ask me important questions about my program and style of education, food, first aid, policies etc., but once they are in the space its almost like it all goes blank. When I’m giving a tour and summary of the programs we run at my location, I try to give as much information that we believe is important for a parent to make a confident decision to have their child in our program. Realistically its one of the biggest decisions a parent can make, your child will be spending the majority of their early years with these staff and children, you want them to know it will be a right fit for their families.
After you make those appointments to tour and get information of the different programs, make a list of questions you’d like answered and the information that’s important to you.
If you are choosing a licensed center usually information is as easy as looking on their websites and being able to download their policies and procedures. If you are going to visit unlicensed home daycares and are having a hard time getting a good picture of what your child’s day will look like if xyz happens before you meet with the provider, I recommend you go with these questions in tow to help alleviate the stress and anxieties that come with making this decision.
Ten of the most important questions to ask your future child care providers.
1. What type of licensing or accreditation does your center/daycare go through and how often?
Like I mentioned in the last blog, understanding what to look for in a Daycare, if the daycare is licensed it is mandatory that you have access to seeing their up to date licensing inspection reports. If your looking into a homecare provider that isn’t licensed, you will need to ask those questions yourself and trust that the answers given are true. (I would say always trust your gut, mama you will have some sort of a sense after asking some tough questions)
Some questions you should ask a none licensed home daycare:
• What are your daycares policies and procedures?
• What are your group sizes and day to day supervision look like?
• Is everyone that will be in contact with my child, as well as reside in the home, have a criminal background check, if so can I see a copy?
• Do you have an up to date first aid training certificate as well as anyone else who will be caring for my child?
• If my child gets injured what are your practices and procedures on notifying a guardian?
• What are your policies on having children immunized in your care?
• What are the action plans put into place in case of emergency, for inside your home or on an outing? (if your child is anaphylactic you need to ask how that would be handled as well in and outside the home.)
• What is your food prep and storage practices? What do your weekly menus look like? What is your special dietary and allergy arrangements and practices.?
• How are hazardous materials stored in your home and how do you keep them safely away from the children?
• What are your qualifications and education behind working with children?
• What do your daily programming plans look like?
• How do you deal with disciplining children in your care?
• What does nap time look like in your care? What if my child stops napping/ or doesn’t nap?
These are some of the main questions I would recommend asking and having the answers either in paper form or at least verbal. When your looking into a licensed center all of this information again is very easily accessible or is visible within the center or online for you to have, but the ministry of education is making sure this is all being done properly to their standards of the law or the center wouldn’t no longer be open and operating.
2. What is required for the educator’s background checks, and who needs to have them?
Its hard as a parent to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s before you enrol your child in a daycare. One thing you’d want to make sure of is that everyone that will be in daily or even occasional contact with your child has no criminal background especially working with the vulnerable sector. At our center we require all staff as well as students and volunteers to provide an up to date criminal reference check that we keep on file.
3. Are the educator’s CPR/ first aid certified and how often does this need to be updated?
As peace of mind its good to know as a parent that your child is left in the care of someone who will know what to do in case of an emergency. Its one thing to take a first aid and CPR course ten years ago and needing to update your knowledge and stay fresh every two years. CPR and First Aid id hope isn’t being practiced every single day in your center (other then little band aids or a child being sick) so its important to always be up to date and practice what needs to be done to save a child’s life in case of emergency.
4. What is an average educator turnover rate look like at your center?
This question is usually never asked and in my opinion as an educator at a daycare center one of the first questions I would ask. A month down the road if you and your child aren’t going to recognize the staff and have to constantly get used to new people there’s going to be a problem. You won’t feel as secure and at peace with leaving your child constantly with new people as well as your child’s behaviour will most likely be affected from having to get used to and get comfortable with new staff. At my center we are just starting to see more turn over because staff that have worked there over thirty years are now retiring but we have a very low turn over rate in most of our programs. I myself have been there right out of high school!
5. What are the staff to child ratios in the program?
In a licensed center this should be posted and visible for parents to see, however it is good to have the knowledge and be aware. Now with the new ratio laws, ratios actually are different depending on time of day as well, so its always good to know if your dropping your child off at a certain time and its so busy and ratios are not being met, that you need to bring it up to the staff, board, and maybe the ministry of education and a resolution will need to be made.
6. What is the information needed about my child as well as how is it stored and filed?
This can look different at every center. We have enrolment packages we give to parents filled with information as well as a registration form of information that is needed for our license to be in good standing. Things like emergency contact information, their allergies or medication plans, depending on the age of the group a photocopy of the child’s vaccines. This information should also be stored in a locked cupboard that only staff should have access too.
7. What is the cleaning and sanitizing practices, how often are carpets and surface areas cleaned?
Again, this will kind of align with your gut feeling as well as hearing or reading their practices. You can visually see how an area where kids learn is kept. If things are tidy and in place, the children are taught to respect the toys and have responsibilities to tidy their own areas, if you go in and it visually looks clean with no dust, the staff is constantly cleaning and sanitizing.
At my program we have cleaning schedules posted but you can visit almost any time of day and any point and our daycare is clean and sanitary. Its important for learning and helps keeps germs at bay.
8. What are the safety and security policies and procedures?
In a licensed center there should be these policies and procedures easily accessible for you to have but to actually have a conversation about it will make you feel more secure. It’s a crazy world we live in today, just a little over a month ago it was suspected that there was a protentional child obduction attempt in our city and because of the safety practices of the center the child was not released and was safe from harm.
9. What are your disciplinary policies as well as everyday practices?
Depending on your beliefs is how you will feel about the response, but to be honest if you ask this question and the provider answers with “time outs” you may want to reconsider. You should hear words like redirection, we try to not give attention to the behaviours we don’t want them doing, we give praise to the children who are doing what they should, we will give praise to your child as soon as and whenever we see them listening to offer them positive reinforcement and attention… these are better strategies for teaching and working with a child with behaviours.
10. What is your centers philosophy on learning?
For most early learning centers, we are educated backed by science, experiments and years of implementation that children learn through play. There are many different styles so before you pick which centers, you’d like to go visit and potentially enroll your child in, figure out which style matches your family’s belief’s best. Some are very similar but some do focus a lot more on structured education even in the younger years.
Finding a childcare center or home daycare can be stressful just for fact that you will no longer be with your child and are now trusting someone else to add value, love, support, teach them, care for them etc. to your child’s everyday. I know for me whenever I’m anxious about something new research, attaining knowledge and speaking with professionals in that field will always make me feel more at ease. I hope these two blogs will help give you the tools to do your own research and give you the questions to confidently pick the right care for your little ones when you go back to work!